MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - This year five times as many officers have been arrested in Memphis as in Nashville. But Nashville and other cities across America do something Memphis doesn't.
To get on the Memphis Police Department you have to pass a written test, psychological and physical test and undergo a background check. One thing you don't have to do is take a test to make sure you're telling the truth.
In many cities applicants have to take polygraph or voice stress tests to prove they are telling the truth before they are hired, but not in Memphis.
Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams doesn't think a polygraph would be a big help in attracting better applicants. Adding it would only reduce the pool of wannabe officers and drive up hiring costs. It's a cost Nashville, among other cities, thinks is worthwhile.
"You can't determine what an officer is going to do on a polygraph test; you can determine what he has done in the past but not the future," Williams noted. "Those guys that can pass the polygraph… those guys go to cities like Nashville and Chicago and Los Angeles."
As for Mayor A C Wharton, he told ABC24 News, "I don't think they prove that much and in some instances have a discriminatory effect. I'm gonna leave this one to the experts so I have no opinion on it."
There are other factors in the MPD application process compared to other cities.
In Memphis two years of college are required for new officers, but classes aren't specified. Other cities take it one step further. They require specific classes that pertain to police work. Candidates must have also maintained a minimum 2.0 GPA. Some cities require an Associate's Degree, but Memphis doesn't.
Another example: while two years of military service can get you a police job in Memphis, cities like Germantown require four years of military service.
Then there is the criminal element.
In Nashville, any applicant convicted of any federal or state laws or city ordinances relating to violence, theft, dishonesty, gambling, liquor or drugs won't be considered. That's not the case in Memphis.
When asked about making the MPD criteria more stringent, like putting in a minimum grade point average or upping the military experience, Wharton replied, "We've had so many lawsuits once it's shown it's had a discriminatory effect and we've had to change it."
So the question is: if Memphis city leaders are going to take a good hard look at the hiring practices, will they just take a look or will they make a change?